Jessica Andrade lived up to her nickname as the ‘piledriver’ with a brutal slam that knocked out Rose Namajunas as she becomes the new UFC strawweight champion.
Following a rough night for Brazilian legends, Andrade — known as ‘Bate Estraca’, which translates to ‘piledriver’ — gave the Rio de Janeiro crowd something to cheer about with her comeback victory as she claims the 115-pound title in a jaw-dropping performance to cap off UFC 237.
Andrade didn’t have many highlight reel moments during the fight but she only needed one to end Namajunas’ night to claim her first UFC championship.
A year off didn’t seem to affect Namajunas whatsoever in the early going as she was fast out of the gate with a precision striking attack that immediately starting giving Andrade headaches.
Striking from a distance, Namajunas was just peppering Andrade with her punches while constantly targeting the same spot on her face. Less than a minute into the fight, Andrade had a cut near her eye thanks to the constant barrage of shots she was eating from the former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ finalist.
Namajunas’ footwork as also giving Andrade problems as she was hitting and moving before the aggressive Brazilian could really mount any kind of offense.
Andrade did manage to bull rush forward to get into the clinch but Namajunas latched onto an arm in a kimura attempt and even after being slammed to the ground, she was still hunting for the submission. Andrade escaped but even in her most dominant position on top, Namajunas was the one threatening for the finish.
As it turns out that slam was a harbinger of the end for Namajunas one round later.
Before that happened, Namajunas was in complete control even landing a knockdown late in the first round after she connected with a knee to Andrade’s head that put her on the canvas for a moment.
As the second round got started it was more of the same from Namajunas with rapid fire combinations that kept Andrade on the end of her punches. While most fighters would be frustrated by this point in the fight, Andrade just continued with her relentless attacks until she finally pushed forward and got inside to look for another takedown.
Much like the first slam in the opening round, Andrade secured her grip around Namajunas’ leg and hoisted her into the air with hardly any effort. Namajunas again looked for the kimura but this time her decision to hold onto the arm ended in disaster as Andrade brought her crashing back down to Earth with her head meeting the canvas in a violent collision.
Andrade continued the assault but the referee quickly rushed into rescue Namajunas, who was already knocked out from the slam.
The end came at 2:58 into the second round as Andrade celebrated her championship victory.
“I was very certain what I had to do in that second round,” Andrade said following the win. “I never threw that move, I never pile-drived in the UFC, that’s my nickname, I’m very happy to be able to do that. I knew she was slowing down and I wanted to knock her out.”
It was a dramatic ending for Andrade after she was struggling to deal with Namajunas’ striking throughout the first seven minutes in the fight. All that mattered in the end was her ability to land that one huge slam that put Namajunas down and out.
“It’s just a huge pressure off my shoulders,” Namajunas said after losing the strawweight title.
Based on that statement it’s tough to say if Namajunas will call for an immediate rematch after winning the majority of the fight before she suffered the slam knockout.
As for Andrade, she becomes champion in her second attempt and now she has a ton of options in terms of what comes next. Michelle Waterson has been on a great win streak lately and there’s an upcoming fight between Tatiana Suarez and Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238 that will most likely crown the most worthy No. 1 contender in the division unless Namajunas pushes for the rematch.